Customers come to Spokane Industries’ steel foundry not just to buy castings, but to find solutions to their problems. Simulating the casting process has helped Spokane support their selling point that they are on the cutting edge of the industry.
By being able to simulate the entire casting process, Spokane has found that their customers now expect more from them. Spokane is confident that they have always lived up to and exceeded the challenges their customers have given them. It is common that when Spokane goes back to a customer with a design change that affects them in ways that cost them more money, like adding a riser, the customer wants to know why. Having the results from the casting process simulation gives Spokane that credibility and additional support. Rod Grozdanich, Technical Director, states, “We use the software to help customers with refining their designs, as well as converting weldments into castings. Being able to simulate the entire process helps a lot in that regard.”
Spokane’s quality department has seen an increase in both current customers and potential customers requiring that casting projects are run through the simulation program. Spokane reports they are increasingly being asked that they show their casting process simulation capability in order to be awarded a particular job.
Spokane utilizes their MAGMASOFT® license to simulate solidification, heat treatment, stress analysis and macrosegregation. In the last 10 months, on the dozen or so new projects they have put out, all but one or two were quality parts on the first run. In addition, by being able to simulate the entire casting process, Spokane sees a large reduction in the time to first quality part, while having a significant impact on shrink issues which were quite a struggle before using MAGMASOFT®. Antonio Melendez, Design Engineer, adds that, “One of the main advantages of the software is that one can see roadblocks beforethey actually happen and can compensate for them, specifically with predicting the distortion of the casting and other issues that might arise before we actually build it.”
The software also helps gain understanding and provides clues to what could be happening when issues arise that initially don’t make sense - simulation verifies what is going on. This enables Spokane to pass on not only an opinion, but the results from the software provide credibility to support those opinions when communicating with their customers. For example, when pouring through a sleeve with a filter, there were scrap issues with the filters breaking. After doing some flow simulations of that methoding, Spokane could see that they needed to use an inch and a half diameter nozzle for the ladle to get the flow just right for this particular set up.
Spokane knows that each casting is different, which means the number of iterations required to reach a satisfactory solution is different. It is a question of how tough a part is - if there are isolated hot spots and there isn’t a clear filling pattern, there are going to be issues. Using casting process simulation, Spokane can now see those trouble spots and focus on resolving the� issues before creating the first sample. Even if multiple iterations using simulation are needed to get focused in the right direction, Spokane is fine with that because they feel they are no longer shooting in the dark.
In addition to the ability to simulate the entire casting process, Spokane has found a solid partner in MAGMA by utilizing the resources available to them as a user. “The user group meeting every year is a very good tool to keep us informed of new developments and get everyone up to speed on anything we feel we would like to improve upon. Peer-to-peer discussions on how we each utilize the software are invaluable,” Melendez says.
At Spokane Industries, it’s clear that their use of casting process simulation software is yielding benefits across the entire business environment, from design through material use, production through part validation, and in differentiating them from their competition. The result is more work being processed more efficiently, with the plant’s capacity utilizat�ion being much higher and more profitable.
Spokane Industries, established in 1952, is a steel foundry, metal products and precision castings facility of more than 222,000 m2 in Spokane, Washington, USA. Experience, expertise, effort and the latest technology differentiate Spokane Industries from other foundries in the marketplace. Proud to be a family-owned company, many employees are second and third generation, who are personally and professionally committed to their customers. Today, the foundry’s output includes durable wear parts for impact crushers, as well as a wide variety of high specification quality castings for the construction, mining, manufacturing, transportation, aluminum and defense industries.
* Text and images courtesy of Spokane Industries, USA